Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lab-on-a-chip could speed up treatment of drug-resistant pneumonia

15.11.2006
The emergency treatment of drug-resistant infections with targeted antibiotics is often delayed by the need to identify bacterial strains by growing them in culture first.

At this week's AVS 53rd International Symposium & Exhibition in San Francisco, Michael Lochhead, a bioengineer at the Denver biotechnology company Accelr8, described a new lab-on-a-chip that can identify single bacterial cells for the most common cases of drug-resistant pneumonia, cutting down the wait from days to hours. The technology could also help in the development of new drugs.

The constant bombardment by antibiotics and disinfectants has bred strains of super-bugs that only respond to very specific drugs. These super-bugs often lurk in hospitals, where patients with weakened immune systems can pick up obstinate, life-threatening infections such as pneumonia. "When you get pneumonia in the hospital, you're much more likely to get a resistant strain," Lochhead said. "It's an emerging public-health disaster."

The most acute cases are admitted into intensive care units, where doctors have just days, if not hours, to save the patients' lives, Lochhead said. But reliably identifying the bacterial strain that's causing the infection traditionally requires growing the bugs in culture first, a procedure that can take two to three days. Meanwhile, doctors often have no other option than to start stopgap treatments with broad-spectrum antibiotics.

... more about:
»Lochhead »antibiotics »bacterial »organism »pneumonia

The Accelr8 technology is a "microfluidic" lab-on-a-chip designed to manipulate and analyze bacteria without growing them first. Samples are first washed out of the patient's lungs with saline solution in a procedure called bronchoalveolar lavage. The organisms are then separated, suspended in a specially designed fluid, and pumped into the chip.

Inside the chip, the bacteria flow into several different compartments -- eight in the current version of the chip -- and are made to stick to a bacteria-friendly surface using an electric current. Antibodies then flow in. The antibodies bind specifically to certain strains of bacteria, and mark them with fluorescent dyes of different colors. The dyes color-code cells from known strains. A microscope monitors the viable cells -- those that are still reproducing -- and the rate at which they duplicate helps to identify their species.

In the next step, different antibiotics are pumped into the chambers. If the cells in a chamber stop reproducing, that indicates that a certain drug is likely to be effective at fighting the infection. The death of the bugs is confirmed by checking with a special dye.

Once the bacteria-carrying fluid is injected into the chip, the entire procedure is automatic-- including the counting of fluorescent-marked cells, which is done by a computer -- and takes less than eight hours.

One of the most difficult steps was to design a surface that would be hospitable to the bacteria but that would at the same time keep the antibodies and antibiotics from sticking to it, Lochhead said. While Accelr8 is working on finding a "universal" material that will allow virtually all pathogenic bacteria to stick to it, the company has so far focused on nine bacterial species that cause most of the cases of drug-resistant pneumonia, including Staphylococcus aureus (staph), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Escherichia coli (E. coli). "If we can characterize the nine panel organisms, we'll cover 80 to 90 percent of hospital-acquired pneumonia cases," Lochhead said.

The company also hopes to apply the technology not just to identifying known strains but also to testing the efficacy of new drugs, or of existing drugs on unknown strains. "Even if you don't know the identity of an organism, if you know which drug works, it's still useful," Lochhead says.

Accelr8, a former software company that refashioned itself into a biotechnology company, plans to place development instruments in collaborating clinical laboratories within a year.

Paper: "Microfluidic Devices That Capture Bacteria for Growth and Kill Analysis," Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 9:40am, Room 2001, AVS 53rd International Symposium & Exhibition, San Francisco, CA, abstract at http://www.avssymposium.org/paper.asp?abstractID=199

Davide Castelvecchi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aip.org

Further reports about: Lochhead antibiotics bacterial organism pneumonia

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What Makes Stem Cells into Perfect Allrounders
27.06.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>